Phuket Island has a rich tradition and a long history with many influences from the east as well as from the west. Phuket (pronounced 'Poo-Ket') Island is commonly referred to as the 'Pearl of the South' and is the largest island in Thailand. The name Phuket is apparently derived from the word bukit in Malay which means "hill", as this is what the island appears like from a distance. The region was formerly referred to as "Thalang," derived from the old Malay "Telong" which means "Cape". The northern district of the province, which was the location of the old capital, still uses this name.
In 1518 the Portuguese were granted permission by King Rama Thibodi II of Ayutthaya to set up a tin trading station in Phuket. During King Narai's reign, 1656-1688, French Ambassador Chevalier de Chaumont noted the importance of Phuket tin for the Ayutthaya's Royal exchequer. Tin mines also opened in neighbouring Takua Pha ("lead forest") in Phang Nga, and in Ranong. The temptation of tin was too much for the warring Burmese. They invaded Phuket four times 1785-1812, prompting a refugee exodus to eastern Phang Nga. When Burma fell to the British in 1824, peaceful trading expanded in the Andaman during the reign of King Rama III, 1824-51. The boom of tin mines in Phuket encouraged, thousands of impoverished Chinese migrated to Phuket in the mid 19th century. In 1870 the English observer Dr DB Bradley wrote: "The immigration continues to increase, and now there are about 25,000 Chinese in Phuket. Gambling predominates much more than in Bangkok, and is the principle cause of so much trouble on the island. By the turn of the century labour intensive tin mining was in decline." The first offshore dredger arrived in 1906, captained by Australian Edward Thomas Miles. Tin changed the face of the island, and the introduction of the first tin dredges in 1907 by Australian Captain Edward Thomas Miles transformed its coastline. With it, tin mining moved offshore. There are still open mines to be found today, but most have disappeared, swallowed up by the jungle or transformed into farms and plantations. The dredges, however, have left their scars along the eastern coastline.
The Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traded with Phuket. Other visitors were less friendly. Phuket's most famous monument is the memorial statue of the heroines Thao Thepkasattri and Thao Sisunthon, who rallied islanders in 1785 to repel Burmese invaders.
Backpackers flocked to the island in the early 1970s. The wealthy inhabitants of the island quickly built simple lodging facilities or accommodations then .Today, budget lodging facilities are still available although high-rises and five -star accommodations have doled a full range of hotels star accommodation. Today, tourism is the number one industry on the island.
The wealth created by it influenced the development of the island. Agriculture increased the wealth of the area. With the introduction of tourism, Phuket boasts the highest per capita income in Thailand. During the daytime the beaches and the outdoors are the attractions. In the evening, Phuket presents many types of entertainment. All lodging facilities have drinking and dining areas. Finding exciting or exotic eating and drinking establishments on Phuket is very easy.
Phuket is blessed with magnificent coves and bays, powdery, palm-fringed white beaches, sparkling island-dotted seas, sincerely hospitable people, superb accommodations and seafood, delightful turn-of-the-century Sino-Portuguese architecture; numerous sporting and leisure opportunities; a lush tropical landscape – all of which combine to create a delightful ambience for truly memorable holidays.
Phuket is Thailand's largest island, approximately the size of Singapore. Phuket nestles in balmy Andaman Sea waters on Thailand's Indian Ocean coastline 862 kilometres south of Bangkok. Phuket formerly derives its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoyed a rich and colourful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign trader's ship logs.
Phuket has two major seasons: the Rainy Season from May through October, and the Dry Season from November through April. There are many sunny days throughout the Rainy Season: showers customarily last little more than 2 or 3 hours. September is the wettest month. The best months are November through February. Average temperatures are consistent year-round. Average highs range from 29 °C (84 °F) to 33 °C (91 °F); average lows range from 23 °C (73 °F) to 26 °C (79 °F).
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